Viral Infection Propagation Through Air-Travel

Science-Based Policy Analysis

The VIPRA project is a multi-university effort to analyze new strategies for reducing the risk of spread of Viral infections through air-travel. This is accomplished by integrating accurate models with a computational infrastructure that is designed for simulation-based policy analysis on some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

The VIPRA approach is based on the realization that inherent uncertainties in human behavior make it difficult to accurately predict the consequences of any particular policy choice. Instead, it is more fruitful to determine a range of possible outcome scenarios, identify possible vulnerabilities, and evaluate the relative merits of feasible policy choices.

VIPRA includes a fine-scale model that tracks individual passenger movement in airplanes, based on social dynamics and empirically observed passenger behavioral characteristics. Sources of uncertainty are parameterized, and simulations performed to cover the range of uncertainties. Results from individual flights are linked with genetic information in a phylo-geographic model in order to evaluate the likelihood of epidemics and to identify pathways for the spread of diseases. The analysis is also validated with empirical data in order to ensure that guidance offered by this analysis is likely to be realistic.

The massive computational demand of such analysis is met through computational allocations on some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. This will be integrated with a software infrastructure targeted for decision support, so that decision makers can effectively evaluate “what-if” scenarios.

This will help achieve VIPRA’s goal of deploying a comprehensive and accurate decision-support infrastructure that can be used eliminate the threat of any new outbreak of an epidemic.

 


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